How do you know what is real?
One day you feel confident in your body. You are okay with what you see the mirror. You appreciate your progress and notice your hard work paying off. You are feeling good about yourself as you work towards your peak performance state. Whether you are trying to whittle down your waistline and improve your aesthetics or up-level in your technique, you are on your purpose, fully committed to the game, and lovin' every second of the process!
The very next day, you HATE what you see. You look as if you gained 20 pounds overnight and shrank a foot. All you notice are your thunder thighs. It's almost as if you are looking in a fun house mirror. You appear clumsy and awkward in all your movements and are disgusted by your dancing. You feel like a thousand pound elephant tromping around the studio.
How can you go from one extreme to the next in such a short period of time? How do you know what to believe? Are you really that bad, or are your mental demons just playing tricks on you? Which version of you is real?
This isn't just hypothetical. This describes my actual dance day yesterday. I was just coaching a Bad Girl Ballerina client on this scenario a few weeks ago, and every now and then I have to take a dose of my own medicine. And, I can only bet you run into this situation more often than not, too.
It's so disorienting when you have a "bad dance day" like this where your first thought upon entering the studio is, "What the f*ck happened to me?" Then, the torrent of nasty, self-deprecating thoughts proceeds to flood your mind for the remainder of class and rehearsal. In this situation, you have two choices. You can either wallow in self-pity as you allow your mental demons to brutally torment you to the point of sabotaging all your hard-won efforts because, "Why even bother; you are hopeless." Or, you can stop the downward spiral, gain control of the situation, and turn things around with a couple mindset tools.
Here's how I deal with things:
Don't Trust What You See
- First of all, it doesn't matter which is the "real" version of you. You can't trust what you see in the mirror. There are too many mental demons messing around in your head, warping your perception and sense of reality to rely on that judgement. The first step is to realize that the "you" you see in the mirror isn't real. You can't use that image as your only feedback for your progress and self-worth. So, learn to take what you see with a grain of salt.
Focus on Actions Over Outcomes
- When you are in the process of working towards your peak performance state, focus on the actions; not the outcomes. Instead of judging your progress based on how you look in the mirror, pay attention to all the steps you already took that day to make you better. Then, make a plan for all the baby steps you can take the rest of the day to lead you closer to your goals. Forget about what you look like in the mirror, the number on the scale, and all the other external signs...and focus on the act of doing.
Actually Follow Through
- Self-esteem comes from making a promise to yourself and then following through on that promise. It shows your subconscious that you are worth the effort. When working towards a goal, the more of these little promises you can fulfill through your actions, the more self-esteem you get. And, the more self-esteem you have, the more likely you will be able to achieve your goals. It's not enough to think yourself into a positive state. You have to actually follow through with your actions. And, the best part is that it doesn't have to be a huge, life-changing action. It can be something small and simple like drinking a big glass of water to ensure your hydration is up to par for the day. Then, you take a moment to simply acknowledge that you are one step closer to your peak performance state. Take that, Demons!
This 3-step process puts the power back in your hands. It makes it easier for you to choose to take one more step in the direction of your goals...instead of drowning your sorrows in a tub of Ben & Jerry's later that night. Because remember, you are always either choosing to feed your demons or feed your self-esteem.
So, when your demons start swarming you with nasty thoughts and judgments on your bad dance days, shut down those voices and put an end to that downward spiral with this 3-step checklist. Choose to build yourself up instead of break yourself down. Dig yourself out of the hole one step at a time. Focus on your actions, & let them empower you.
Photo credit: Rachel Neville Photography